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Red Bull Elements 2014

Once again the Red Bull Elements took place this september in France in the beautiful area surrounding Talloires, a picturesque village on the shores of the Annecy lake and in the shadow of La Tournette, an iconic mountain dominating the lake.

This was the 4th edition of this unique outdooor relay race. Have a look at the action clip to get a glimpse of the intensity of the race! Rowing, trail running, paragliding and mountain biking are the disciplines involved… but each with a twist that makes this race stand apart from traditional competitions. The level of athletes and teams was impressive in the past. But this edition has been the most disputed ever, without a doubt. Olympians, word champions, professional athletes are the norm in the top finishing teams, and only a couple of minutes separated the top 3 teams after more than 5 hours of racing!

On a production level I put together a team of 25 people for the job: 9 cameras on the ground, 2 runners on motorbikes, a cineflex, HF transmissions for the live signal getting to l’Equipe 21, a satellite truck a.k.a. SNG), 3 editors, 3 POV operators… this extensive team reflects the complexity of the event’s geography (the area to cover is huge!) combined with tight delivery schedules for a TV newscut and action clip. We also needed to cover some key aspects of the race and of the leading teams for the 13-min TV highlights. A big effort in coordination! but the event is well worth it and if you think you’re having a tough day running around on this production, a quick look at the athletes pushing themselves is a good reminder of who’s really making the effort here… ;-)

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all pictures courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool / Damien Rosso / Dom Daher / Jeremy Bernard / Tristan Shu

Fred Fugen and Vincent Reffet - Action

Soul Flyers’ Skycombo

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http://skycombo.redbull.com

I’ve been lucky enough to work on a number of cool events and progressive projects over the years. But I have to say that this one is certainly standing out as particularly badass. Just check out the clip above.

I first met with Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet, a.k.a. the Soul Flyers, back in april 2013. They had this crazy idea to jump (skydive) over the iconic Mont Blanc at very high altitude, execute a freefly routine, open their parachutes and “swoop” the entire mountain with their super fast, super maneuverable canopies. A visionary idea if you ask me, and one that they convinced Red Bull to bet on. Soon enough the project began to shape, and challenges arose: Fred and Vince would be dealing with extreme cold, lack of oxygen, legal and aeronautical uncertainties… and as a production partner and director on the project, I was challenged by the extreme difficulty to document the performance given the very hostile environnement, and a rather complex story to tell through short, action-packed clips.

Indeed I immediately realized that the more I learned about the project, the more impressive the performance became. Without a minimum of context it could appear as “just” a high-altitude skydive with some oxygen masks on. The invisible challenges needed to be deciphered for the audience: extreme cold (-50°c), lack of oxygen (I learned a great deal about hypoxia and the 20-30 seconds of useful consciousness you have at 10’000 meters if you’re deprived from an oxygen supply), airspace regulations… and the list goes on. Oh, and did I mention that Fred and Vince would be flying at nearly 100 km/h just meters away from one of the most inhospitable mountain in Europe? these guys have become my new idols. Like, you know, you’d want to be them, fly and have as much fun as they do, and master their sport in such a cool yet innovative way.

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all pictures courtesy of Red Bull / Dom Daher

The whole project took more than a year to come together. This long and meticulous preparation has been documented and you can get a glimpse of these guy’s hard work in the 8-minute making-of here:
http://www.redbull.com/fr/fr/adventure/videos/1331661539177/skycombo-soul-flyers-behind-the-scene-video

On a production level it’s been complex to find the right tools, especially for the first phase of the jump between 10’000 meters and 6’000 meters. No helicopter can fly this high and the only way to capture the freefly routine was through gopros, and with the help of skydive extraordinaire Noah Banson who is the ‘official’ cameraman/photographer of the Soulflyers and executed the jump with them. I ended up picking the then brand new GH4 for the stunt; the weight was just fine for Noah (the camera was helmet-mounted and anything too heavy could seriously hurt his neck during the parachute opening, which was a no go), and with the right combination of Speedbooster adapter and wide angle lens, we managed to get a 16mm equivalent which is what I was after. We shot the jump in 4K, which gave a pretty comfortable margin to then stabilize the shots in post production for our HD master, getting closer to a 20mm field of view in the process and ultimately not fall into the “fisheye-adrenaline junky” aspect that is too common in action sports. Last but not least, the GH4 is well-built and seemed capable of resisting the super low temperatures for the duration of the freefall. An extra layer of neoprene for thermal protection was the final touch, and the GH4 functioned flawlessly under these extreme conditions, travelling 230 km/h in -50°c and still recording stunning 4K video.

Once again the project gave “team work” its true meaning, with oxygen experts, cameramen, mountain guides, heli and plane pilots all working together to make this project the success that is was. Not to forget the people @ Red Bull whose support and passion made it possible for Fred and Vince to set a new, high-altitude landmark in the world of aerial sports. Very well done, gentlemen.

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Interview with InspiringAdventurer.com

A few weeks ago I’ve been contacted by Julian Bittel from www.inspiringadventurer.com to run an interview. Julian is running this very interesting podcast with out-of-the-ordinary personalities from around the globe, and to land on that list is pretty cool.
It was a pleasant moment spent talking about my years as a fulltime whitewater kayaker, and how I progressively switched to TV/video production later on. Talking about yourself at lenght is a good exercise to think about life, how you got where you are, and if that’s the right place for you. As you’ll understand by listening to the interview, I did more than just “follow the river” on these aspects ;-)

Here’s the direct link to the interview:
http://inspiringadventurer.com/031-david-arnaud/

The photo above is from my good friend and inspiring adventurer himself Paul Villecourt

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Wings for Life World Run

If you’ve followed the productions I usually work on, you’ll notice that the vast majority of them revolve around action sports. That’s precisely what makes projects such as the “Wings For Life World Run” even more interesting to me. Every once in a while it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and do something new and challenging. And here the challenge was both technical, with a 6-hour long live signal to deliver with complex HF transmissions, and editorial with a completely new and innovative race format.

Simply put this was a fantastic event backed by a very inventive concept – and for the cause of research on spinal cord injuries: 35’000 participants running simultaneously in 34 destinations around the world, with a catcher car acting as a moving finish line, and one global live program edited from the 34 live feeds. To be part of this global effort was something really special, and the webcast was super nice to follow, taking the viewer from one country to the next, from sunset to sunrise, it was very exciting to watch and inspirational to say the least. I bet that next year’s edition will see many, many more participants after such a sucessful first.

This is the clip that we put together to summarize the race in France. A mix of emotions, performance, and lots of smiles and good spirits to help find a cure for spinal cord injuries.

From a production standpoint this event involved a number of challenges obviously. Such an ambitious live program involved a massive effort on the coordination side, permanent contact with the headquarters in Austria and with our cameramen on the field. Our setup included :
4 motorbikes
4 cameras, out of which 2 were live with HF signals relayed via a plane flying permanently above the race leaders
a SNG uplinking our feed and downlinking the global program
l’Equipe 21 using both feeds throughout the day for their live coverage of the event.
2 editors
10 technicians under the production tent
2 cranes for HF reception and to film the start

For more info and to register for the 2015 edition:

http://www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com/

© Dom Daher/Red Bull Content Pool

Alexis Pinturault profile for Red Bull

Last fall I was contacted by Red Bull to produce a 5-min portrait of an athlete that recently joined the Red Bull alpine skiing dream team with the likes of Lindsey Vonn, Aksel Lund Svindal… A few days later I was standing on the glacier in Tignes, along with the French skiing team, documenting French phenomenon Alexis Pinturault doing what he does best: go fast on skis !

 Full article here: http://www.redbull.com/en/snow/stories/1331624529661/alexis-pinturault-world-cup-skiing-video-profile